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Protecting the mental health of construction workers

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

Those who work in the construction field face many physical hazards daily. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “Fatal Four” includes falling, being hit by an object, getting caught between pieces of equipment and electrocutions.

What many construction workers may not recognize is the likely psychological toll of their job. Mental health issues, including PTSD and depression, are common throughout the field. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says laborers have one of the highest suicide rates of any industry.

Workers’ compensation and psychological injuries

Under state law, employees with “above average” stress levels can receive workers’ compensation benefits for psychological injuries. Generally, that means workers must show that the emotional pressures they face are greater than those of their co-workers.

While that stress doesn’t have to be the only cause of the mental health issue, it must be a primary contributor. A single event or stress piling up over a more extended period may be the cause of the injury.

Addressing the gaps for construction workers

In 2020, nearly 90% of construction workers were male. Research by the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Program noted that a staggering 83% of construction workers report having moderate to severe mental health issues. Other studies show men are less likely than women to seek help for psychological problems to avoid appearing weak.

Many companies apply policies and practices that prioritize emotional well-being as well as physical security. Efforts include employee assistance programs, including offering counseling, embracing open communication and providing suicide prevention resources. Employees who lack necessary company support may have legal options.